This story was originally published on March 27, 2017.
We're always looking for ways to hack our lives. But out of all the "Try THESE Tips & Tricks!" articles out there, how many of them have you
actually tried? And how much time have they actually saved you? Until recently, I really hadn't tried any of the dozens of kitchen hacks out there. And I truly didn't know how much time I could be currently wasting away in my kitchen (doing things the non-hacky way).
These culinary shortcuts were promising me that my troublesome cooking feats could be turned into painless jaunts in the park, with just a few quirky tricks. So why wasn't I using them? If for one week I used a cooking hack in every single meal I made, perhaps I could gain hours of my life back! And so, that's just what I did; For five days I used one cooking hack in each meal that I made. But as I began this journey, and started to consider the majority of these tips, I began to realize just how bizarre they sounded and felt (especially when I was spearing my strawberries with a straw).
Did I make it through my week of hacks: from avocado peeling with glasses, to leftover nut butter jar recipes, troublesome tomato chopping, and more? Was I able to gain back my previous hours that had been lost on culinary toil? Or was this all just a huge and super strange pain in the ass? Read on to find out which tips were actually worth it, and which ended up in some sort of kitchen explosion.
Peel Your Avocado With A Glass My first hack of the week was an avocado peeling trick: Scoop out your 'cado with a glass cup. I would usually just slice and spoon in this situation, so going out of my way to grab a glass and scoop out the entire half turned out to be more awkward and messy than my usual method. In the end, I didn't feel like any time was saved. If anything, it added in more thought and clean up after the fact (it got ALL over my hands).
Worth It? No Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton. More VIDEO
Cook Eggs In The Microwave I am into scrambled eggs; as in I enjoy nothing more than whipping up a fresh batch on the stove in the a.m. So although the idea of this fast hack weirded me out, I was intrigued by the time saving and mess-free aspects for a speedier morning routine. As it turns out this trick was FAST; I placed the scrambled eggs in the bowl with some coconut oil, and popped them in the microwave for only two minutes. The downside? After about one minute of that time, I heard a loud pop and realized that the egg mixture had exploded inside the microwave — leaving me with a thin, hole-y, crepe-like egg-in-a-bowl situation. So, a bit different than my usual fluffy scramble. Time and cleanup were saved, however quality was sacrificed.
Worth It? No (but maybe if you're going to fold that egg-crepe into a sandwich situation) Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton. More VIDEO
Leftover Almond Butter Overnight Oats Hack Getting the last few scrapes of nut butter from the jar can be a truly tiresome struggle, so the overnight oats hack had me feeling hopeful. Not only was it saving me time spent scraping in the a.m., but it was also saving me an extra container to clean (rest easy mason jar). I was able to just grab my jar and go the next morning, no muss no fuss — AND the mixture came out creamy with all that extra, hard to reach almond butter smoothly incorporated.
Worth It? Yes! Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton. More VIDEO
Microwave Your Citrus To Get More Juice This hack was not something I would have considered prior to my experiment — because microwaving your citrus pre-squeezing is adding an extra step (and therefore additional time). However, it really worked. The juice I was able to get out of the microwaved lemon half was far superior than the raw half I left on the counter (and it was also way easier to squeeze once it had softened). So if you're less concerned about time and more concerned with quality, this tip more than does the trick!
Worth It? Yes Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton. More VIDEO VIDEO VIDEO
Peel Your Hardboiled Eggs With A Glass I peel many a hard boiled egg each week — so trying out a new trick for an easier method sounded right up my alley. I ended up feeling similarly about the shaking glass method as I did with the earlier yolk separation method — it was an unnecessary alternative method. Why switch up my already established routine to something that will essentially achieve the same end result, with an additional cleanup step? Yes the egg was partially peeled at the end, but it was also partially smashed. Not to mention, there were little bits of shell ALL over the place.
Worth It? No Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton. More VIDEO VIDEO
Baking Soda & Tack Hardboiled Eggs Yes! Another egg hack. As I said before, I deal with many a hardboiled egg during my week — so I've essentially nailed down my specific method for cooking up a batch to soft yolk perfection. And although this tack and baking soda method was news to me, I was intrigued by the easy peeling promises. It turned out that while pricking a hole in the bottom of the eggs made them ultimately easier to peel, it also caused them to cook faster — resulting in an overdone yolk. This trick is something I would definitely have to play around with (I'll be shortening the cook-timer next go-round).
Worth It? Kind of Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton. More
Cook Your Grains In The Microwave Cooking grains on the stove can be a slippery slope. You want to just set them and forget them, but what happens if they don't sufficiently simmer? Or how about if they bubble over? And let's just hope that they don't' cook off and dry out completely! So in an effort to save myself some major monitoring and anxiety over stovetop grains, I gave the microwave method a try. I popped my rice into a deep heat-safe dish, topped with an ample amount of veggie-stock, set the microwave to 25 minutes, and parked myself on the couch for an episode of Girls. And? It was a success. The rice cooked to perfection with no mess and no monitoring. This is a hack I will definitely be utilizing again.
Worth It? Yes
Final Thoughts Did I gain back hours of my life?! Well, ten out of the 15 hacks I tried ended up being worth it. However, the majority of these successes I favored quality over speed — meaning that if the end result was of a higher quality, then the timing of it all didn't really matter too much. But if the outcome was the same or less (messy AF), going through the trouble of trying a new method was just that — trouble. So all in all, I didn't really save any real time trying these new hacks. They simply gave me a new way of looking at my old methods. And maybe after mastering them in the long run, I could end up pinching a few minutes here and there. But for now, I'll be sticking to cooking my eggs sans microwave. Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton. More Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here? This Baby Celebrated Her First Birthday Right — With A Taco Bell-Themed Photo Shoot Where To Dine On The Upper West Side This Guy Made A Ham & Cheese Sandwich That LITERALLY Looks Like Vin Diesel's Face